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Thistle Alpha
Oil Rig Photos
No: 1740   Contributor: Alan Keller   Year: 2007   Country: United Kingdom
Thistle Alpha

Thistle Alpha platform AKA 'the Black Pig'. Picture taken 2007, done a couple of trips on it, play the game cozy.
Picture added on 24 April 2009 at 22:11
add commentComments:
First rig I was ever on, back in 1993, working with Santa Fe doing workovers. Just before Christmas, I remember it well....

Added by Gavin Brooks on 11 October 2009.
Was on the 'black pig' for a few years in the 1990's when BP had it, the crack was good and so was the food, spent many happy days on board.

Added by Dougie Meikle on 03 December 2009.
Worked as derrickman on first exploration well 2/11-18 then Signal Oil and Gas was operator on the rig Bluewater 3 summer 1972. Happy carefree days. Aberdeen was alive and booming and not ruled by company bean counters. Returned to Thistle Alpha 1978 on rig 111 as driller for short spell, did not care much for the work, too many graduate trainees with no experience telling one how to drill the well.Thanks for the memories.

Added by Fraser Hepburn on 26 January 2010.
My last trip on Thistle Alpha was November '78 with Santa Fe... 111, Roy..? drller, as I recall, Pete Slack derrickman on 112 . Alan / OX4.

Added by Alan Carter on 27 January 2010.
Worked this rig in the eighties during Britoil transition. Was part of he fire team...god we were kept busy. What a dump of a rig.

Added by Andrew on 10 February 2010.
I retired at the age of 65 from this platform got a good send off that was in the year 2000, I still keep in touch with some of the lads happy days.

Added by Dougie Meikle on 13 February 2010.
I watched from the "Blue Dolphin" as the Thistle "A" was floated into position. (1976) There was a fire started by a gas cutter on the hydraulics module on the same day as it was placed. Actually the platform was never landed in the intended position.

Santa Fe had two purpose built drilling rigs built to drill the foundations and they were 42 inch holes (I cannot remember to what depth) The foudations were drilled using 11 inch pipe with reverse circulation. Each Rig drilled foundations on two corners of the platform. There are 16 foundations on each corner making a total of 64 in all.
Shortly after the founation work began there was a fatal accident which involved a "Pedestal Type" crane literally snapped off at the base and the crane driver was killed.

Also I suspect that the platform is still being held in place by at least one worker who went missing mysteriously. The worker was last seen pissing down a foundation coller. As derekman I was instructed to keep a close watch on the shakers for anything out of the ordinary.

I have several photos of this time on the Thistle but sadly I lost quite a lot of my pictures. If any body has any pics of this period I would like to see them.

So to sum up ...
There have been two fires on the Thistle "A"
It is not in the position which was intended
At least two fatalities during construction

Added by Barry I. Bitossi on 26 June 2010.
I was on the Thistle Alpha as a mudlogger in 1978-79 - my first ever rig or trip offshore. To Alan Carter: the 'Roy' (driller) you are thinking of was, I believe, Roy Townhill (sadly, died in mid '90s, so I was told.) I also remember drillers Bob Meadows and Larry Mucinek (spelling?) and co. men Bill Jones, 'Bunny' Bigg-Wither and John Thorogood.

The pit rooms were semi-open, I remember, and very cold. I spent part of the time living on the Gulnare (accommodation semi-sub) which was moored alongside. Also remember only too well the tremendous storm in September 1978 when hurricane Flossie made it across the Atlantic and rejuvenated right over Thistle A ... 150 knot winds that night.

Added by Andy on 14 July 2010.
I spent 5 years with Santa Fe on TA. Started as roustabout and worked my way up to Derrick hand. Left rig in 86. Drillers I worked for; Mad Mick Macfarlane, Farmer, Hawkeye, Robb Big Foot. Sorry to read that Roy has passed away he was a good guy.

Added by Exocet on 07 August 2010.
I was on the Songa Star accomodation rig next to Thistle A in the early eighties. My uncle was a well respected by all chief steward, who called everybody "Mucker". His name was Frank Barnes. He had a blood clot in his lung, was told by doctor to go to hospital ASAP. When he got there, they said it was something else, sent him home, he was dead in the morning. RIP Uncle Freddie!

Added by Iain Barnes on 26 August 2010.
I was working on the Thistle A as an electrician for Balfour Kilpatrick in 1977/78. I enjoyed working on this rig. I transfered to the piper Alpha and worked there until April 1979.

Added by Bob Walker on 20 September 2010.
I worked on Thistle Alpha from 1988-1993 as HLO & Heli-admin. Was first female to work on Thistle & 1st female HLO in NNS. I have lots of very fond memories of the Thistle, what it lacked in looks was made up for by the guys that worked onboard. Everyone from the top to the bottom just got on with it. Too many names to mention but recognise a few mentioned above. Sorry to hear about Roy he was gent.

Added by Lesley Duncan (nee Jones) on 26 September 2010.
Headed off there on Mon as a Wireline trainee, from what I hear its a bit of a dump but the craic is fantastic. looking forward to my trip.

Added by Ross on 27 November 2010.
Remember Lesley Jones on her first trip and a couple after that before I departed. We had to install seperate shower facilities etc as at that time it was communal showers on Thistle. For some reason she didn't fancy it....poor girl.

Added by Andy Gill on 29 November 2010.
I remember Leslie on the Black Pig she was the HLO.
Did her job well and joined in the spirit of things, after that we had Chas, (safety) and Wendy (medic).

Added by Dougie Meikle on 09 December 2010.
Hi I spent a total of 6 years on Thistle. I remember most of the details above. I was there during the first weight reduction programme. At that time Mike O'mara was building the Hyperbaric Diving and lifeboat system. Wynn Chote was responsible for sub sea, Infabco and 2W were the diving companies on board. Frankie Miller Spike, Ged, Mick Bob and Neil were the crane operators. John Meadows, Clive Ashley, Larry Much, Jackson, Solomon, Mick Quinn, Charlie Goldie, John Wrenn, Davy Tough were some of the drilling team but not all. John Severn was the maintenance super, Spug was his assistant. Mick Fullerton Tom Whitehead and John and Mike Thelan were the Schlumberger team. Tim Warren, Davey Shepheard Garven Anderson, Barry Curwen, Sean O'Hara, Dave Cocklin, Wally Jenkins were the deck crew. John, Tony. Eric were the Marine, Dougie, Brian and Ian were the materials controllers. I remember the night we lost Mr Enerstadt. He washed crushed by a 6 ton hellifuel tank on the Olav Viking He died on the way to the Brent hospital.

Then there was the Infabco incident. We waited as the time ran out for the two divers lost in their breakaway diving bell. Always best to check your shackles are secured. A diving bell is not safe hanging on it's umbilical chord.

I remember when the 111 cat walk extension collapsed and 6 men received very serious injuries when they were thrown onto the the skid deck. I was busy moving stretchers on the Billy Pugh to the sick bay that day. That would be Norman Terry and Stewart Whittaker medic, (Sorry for the spelling.

I remember the gas explosion in the tunnel between the rigs. I remember the cause. Conflict of PTW in two area's I was surprised to hear about the case about Cancer I remember the radioactive behaviour of Thistle Alpha I fell out with them for trying to get us to work inside tanks lined with LSA. They got some other poor git to do the dirty work. I worked in the Deck crew with Tim Warren we were good mates.

I remember the night we named the Thistle after Captain Pugwash's Boat Yeh I'm responsible for naming the platform by it's better known name the Black Pig. We had a great atmosphere on board, have I forgotten anyone? Yes loads, Lab techs, Ian and Mike, I remember when we were issued with the French fire helmets and we became known as the Jedi. Fred Whikens, John Mcdonald, Jim Bell in admin, Wade , Jim, Dave, Peter OIM's. Yes the Thistle brings back memories mostly good ones.

Added by Paul McMillan on 20 January 2011.
I spent my first trip offshore on Thistle Alpha as a construction inst tech in 1978 when the water injection & gas compression projects were going on. We had the Gulnare alongside as an accomodation barge. Frankie Knight was one of the techs I worked with. The crack was magic as were the blokes who were handing it out, the inst construction sup'v there called Alan Davenport, top bloke from the Teeside area who would often come to South Shields for a few beers together. From the Thistle I moved over to Ninian North for the hook up which was another good job for the crack, huddled around the transformers on the wellhead area trying to get warm.

Added by Bill Brown on 23 February 2011.
My first trip, was on the Thistle. Started early 1988(Just before, Piper A incident.) and finished late 1989.
I worked for Chalk Catering, my first taste of off-shore.
Worked with a great bunch of lads and enjoyed most the time I was out there. (Except xmas. :( )
I use to work in the Mess Hall and got to meet most people onboard.Had some great banter, in that mess hall and galley.
I think the medic onboard, was called Victor?
Rig didn't look good, but the crew were great. Happy days.
If anybody remembers me, get back to me?

Added by Karl Roberts.(Scouser-Biggyin) on 15 August 2011.
I worked alongside the Thistle whilst under construction on the what I thought was called the Belford Dolphin before the Gulnare docked the other side - met a load of great guys on there in 77.

Added by Kev Payne on 18 October 2011.
Your right Kev Belford Dolphin, I still have some photo's of it. The "Dolphin" was along side from day one. The platform was placed in about August 76 (as I recall)
Santa Fe had a yard in Leith and the equipment was loaded in Leith and sent out on barges. We followed close behind and were accomidated on the "Dophin" while they got all of their modules secured to the platform.
Interesting days and very dark nights.

Added by Barry Bitossi on 19 October 2011.
Worked on thistle from float out to first oil, as rigging supervisor on Belford Dolphin/Gulnaire/DB 100/Sea Troll. I remember the Acker 100 ton crane incident it was lost trying to pull one of the main piles up, it should have been pulled by the 200 ton crane, but that had broken down, someone in thier wisdom decided to use the Acker pedistal crane instead. I was employed by Humberoak and then Tokola, an American company, along with Wyn Choate and others....

Added by Ray Jarvis on 05 November 2011.
Hey Ray I remember you very well. Wyn Choate too. Diving guy. Cyril, Gravesend team. Chuck Hill, Mr Ohara and his brother Sean. Hope you are doing well Ray.

Added by Anon on 07 November 2011.
I was off on leave when the pedistal crane snapped at the base and from memory the driver lost his life. I have some photos somewhere of the remains of the crane. Great sadness.

Eddy Sims was my friend and he was a pusher on the opposite shift to me. I believe Ed was killed in an accident in Aberdeen while I was in New Zealand on a flying visit. If anybody knows what happened to Ed I would like to hear from them.

Added by Barry Bitossi on 08 November 2011.
See ThistleLLX on youtube for an update on current Thistle activities

Added by ThistleLLX on 29 April 2012.
My first North Sea experience. I worked for Taywwod Santa Fe and was at the module construction yards in Spain and France. Went to Leith Docks in Jan '77 and then the Seatroll for the SALM. Eventually in Peterhead for the HUC until June '78. Great Memories

Geoff Spalding (Aussie)

Added by Geoff Spalding on 11 May 2012.
Just finished reading all the comments, I am on Thistle and have been for the last 18 months, if any of you guys who were here in the late 70s and early 80s had to pay a visit now you would not see too much of a difference, the new owners have predicted production until at least 2025 believe it or not. Job is OK, conditions are poor compared to elsewhere but I just take it for what it is, an old platform and a wage coming in, enjoyed reading all your comments.

Added by Jon Walker on 09 June 2012.
I used to work on Thistle Alpha for over 3 years with Hawkeye Roy Townhill, Mad Mick Mcfarlane, was only a young lad at the time of 18 and had my leg broken there, was in hospital for 6 months. Was a character from Liverpool on the rig then called Lenny Levi.

Added by Charlie Cartwright on 26 June 2012.
I was on Thistle Alpha commissioning the gas and water injection module instrumentation and controls. I worked for 'Orbworld'. Lived on the Gulnare. I'll have to fish out some of the old photos.

Added by Mike Rowe on 27 July 2012.
Worked roughneck on 112 to bring in first well, Jerry Lessals was driller, a right cajun b*****. Still, happy days.

Added by Derek Thomson on 20 August 2012.
Yep, we are drilling again on Thistle, still a great place to work.
Lots of life in the old girl yet with the Thistle LLX Project

Added by Alistair Powers on 15 September 2012.
I was a welder on the Thistle A October 76 followed her from Hartlepool where she was built, worked with welder Mike Coates our first job offshore aged 26 staying on the Blue Dolphin working for Press/Worley seconded to Sante Fe making jacket ready to recieve first of the top sides and doing the installation of top sides happy days real North Sea tigers not like the pussy cats of today.

Added by Ivan Rayne on 17 September 2012.
This was the very first platform that I worked on. I was working for chalk catering in 95. The rig had to shut down so their was about 300 people on it. So cleaning all that dishes on that stupid wash room on the galley was mad actually their was a guy nickname was the screaming skull. But I had a good laugh being my first rig.

Added by Scott Gibbon on 19 November 2012.
I was on the Gulnare for the almost 3 year accomodation job, as radio operator. Very long and busy days. Remember Cyril from Gravesend, scot Hughie Lamb, English HLO Mark Roberts. Wish I could the names of all the faces I remember.
I too were on the field during that big storm in 1978. We were pulled off from the Thistle. We even got a couple of bigones (waves) flooding the helideck at 18m ASL. Also remember the tragic accident when the bell got severed from the Wildrake. I think they were doing a dive on what was going to be the loading buoy template.

Added by Geir (Chris) Christiansen on 15 December 2012.
On Thistle with EAE during the start-up for 12 mths as R/O then transferred to Belford Dolphin for another 12mths as R/O before moving on again - I was on Thistle and on watch for the crane incident. Now in Afghanistan and working with a guy from UK who was on Thistle when I was on BD - good days & a small world.

Added by Mike Dunne on 06 January 2013.
I remember Paul Mcmillan, but he must have forgot me.. a greenhorn in those days with Santa Fe.

Added by Mark jeffrey (Jeff) on 05 April 2013.
i was on the thistle dec 2012 doing the asbestos removal ... loved every minute of it , Great crew, great job ... Steve Williams was O.I.M and even though he was from Swansea he was a pleasure to work with ( im from Cardiff myself )

Added by Peeter Roomus on 14 April 2013.
I worked on Thistle "A" from July 1978 till August 1980 with the gas compressor commissioning team. Spent about 80% of theis time offshore because I didn't have an opposite. One of the happiest times of my life. Great guys to work with, excellent food and lots of laughs. 3 days before my wedding I was on Thistle, and 3 days after I was on Thistle...but got married in New Orleans...if you're wondering, that one didn't last too long. LOL! :) Would love to hear from any of my mates from back then.

Added by Tom McGuinness on 16 April 2013.
worked on the rig in early 80s as a scaffolder, remember my mate tony carey from nz was on there rip tony had fun on this rig

Added by Theo Hoffman on 01 October 2013.
I worked on Thistle A from 1979 to 1986 started for BNOC as maintain electrician and moved over to production team. I remember good times good food but best of all a good team of work mates and sounder what are they all doing now???

Added by John weatherall on 16 October 2013.
Tom Mcguiness me old mate, well I never, you still working with Bill Dyer flying around the world biz class. Sounds like eli may's gone the journey (bad news). I'm still battering away in Abergloom for another couple of months then I think i'll move to coon ass country to get some sun

Added by Brian Murray...thistle '74 building the jacket 'til '85 on 21 October 2013.
I worked on Thistle 1978/1986 started as electrician then moved to production dept, remember workmates Alex Bogdanovic, Steve Whitley, Sam Tooey George Eddey, Dave Atkinson, Jim Webb, Bob Logue, good times good friends often wonder we're everybody is now.....??

Added by on 13 January 2014.
There may be some of the old blandford offshore boys still about from the thistle A 1978 all the besT on all of your retirements GEOFF PERRY

Added by GEOFF PERRY on 23 February 2014.
Started my offshore career on "The Black Pig" with Santa-Fe drilling as a roustabout then later as a roughneck. Mike Quin was day pusher and "porky" was the night pusher. Eddie Wilson driller Edward McCarl asst driller and my salmon fishing buddy. Anyone reading this and remembers me get in touch. Also Robbie Caldwell(Pusher)Robert Hunter (roughneck) Graham Elmsley (roughneck)Detleff Prochhold (derrickman, John Bezhmer Bezzie crane op. 1986-1992

Added by Mark Hamilton on 22 March 2014.
I remember welding down the helideck with Eddy Wood in the middle of the night with big stick rods and it was still daylight at 1.30am. I was 20 and half at the time I lied about my age to get offshore. What a dick!

Added by Michael Walton on 09 June 2014.
I worked on the Thistle 1979/1986 for the production dept and remember work mates Alex Sam George. Dave John Jim Alan Steve chalky Whitley, good times good memories, we're is everybody now.????

Added by John Weatherall on 12 June 2014.
Anyone Remeber a Jim or james buchan who used to work on the Thistle?

Added by Jamie on 12 June 2014.
I worked on the Thistle from 1979/1985 for BNOC as it was then the production dept A shift if I remember correctly we Alex Bogdanovic Sam tooie George Eddie Dave Atkinson Jim Webb Steve chalky whistle and a lot more good lads we had good times and I have fond memories of the place and often wonder what everybody is doing know.???

Added by John Weatherall on 15 June 2014.
Whatever happened to John Grey, Wilko, Hughie Cowe and the rest of the deck crew best memory...wallpapering inside the accommodation for overtime. 3 hours each for two strips collectively. Took us almost a year t wallpaper over the cracks.

Added by Andrew Gill on 18 June 2014.
Alex Bogdanovic is still offshore. Hes an OIM on an FPSO on Brazil at the moment. I was on the pig from 1979 to 1990. As many have said, a bit of a wreck, hard work, but a great atmosphere.

Added by Alex Bogdanovic on 03 August 2014.
Worked on the thistle as a scaffolder, my mate tony carey from nz was the derrickman. There was another kiwi working in the laundry as well.good days, many laughs.

Added by Theo Hoffman on 07 August 2014.
My first trip off shore was on the thistle shutdown 91, was a welder with wood group, stayed on the Borgland Dolphin ......
Happy days :)

Added by Alan smith on 06 October 2014.
The first time I was off shore was on the thistle 91 shutdown was a welder with wood group, stayed on the Borgland Dolphin.... Happy days

Added by Alan smith on 06 October 2014.
Myself (rigger) and a pipe fitter were collecting up gear after maintenance when we could smell gas .they were charging lines up before testing.phoned controll room you can imagine the rest.OIM next day thanked us for our vigilance offered us bp tie and cans of soft drink.good old days.

Added by Reg (RAB ) on 19 January 2015.
Myself and pipe fitter clearing up gear after shutdown could smell gas( rotten eggs) phoned controll room you can imagine the rest.Next day called up to see OIM thanked for our vigilance offered BP tie and some cans of soft spark we could of had another piper alpha.good old days.John big foot used to be bouncer on leave in Peterhead are you still about?

Added by Reg (RAB ) on 19 January 2015.
Worked on Thistle Alpha as roughneck 1979 1980. Remember Frank Miller John Wren Jerry Lasale. Aussie Driller Barry Shereenie and rough necks Ross wall and Charlie Windsor. I am Aussie they called me "Skip" Santa Fe were alright to work for. Fond memories

Added by Rob Pixley on 24 January 2015.
George Eadie here, great to see some familiar names!!

Added by George eadie on 27 March 2015.
Does anyone remember Waid MacPherson - OIM on Thistle in late 70's early 80's, hes my Dad and sadly has Alzheimers disease. I'm looking for photos to put in a memory book for him.

Added by Sheila on 04 June 2015.
Does anyone remember Waid MacPherson - OIM on Thistle in late 70's early 80's, hes my Dad and sadly has Alzheimers disease. I'm looking for photos to put in a memory book for him.

Added by Sheila on 04 June 2015.

try here

Added by Jamie Harding on 05 June 2015.
Sheila go have a look on Enquest's website, I did post the link but the mod's here didnt put up my reply for some reason

Added by Jamie Harding on 17 June 2015.
I was on Belford Dolphin as one of the Aker deck crane drivers, and met some real characters, I am sure they worked for Humberoak. Also found a photo of scaffolding under Thistle A. Really interesting reading all the memories.

Added by Dave L on 26 July 2015.
hey Dave.L I was in the BD Radio Rm with Martin & Tom, I visit the site with every new entry & you're the 1st ex-BD hand, all good guys but names escape me - I do recall 2 x brothers from Glasgow working the cranes - is one of em yerself ? have you any BD pix to share pleez ?

Added by Mike Dunne on 28 July 2015.
Mike, did u buy me a tail light for my Ford when on homd leave ? I was Gulnare R/O, Chris

Added by Geir Chrisriansen on 28 July 2015.
Sorry Chris not me

Added by on 29 July 2015.
sounds very familiar Chris, pse drop me a line on no UK fone as I am hanging out in Kenya .-.-. -.-

Added by Mike Dunne on 29 July 2015.
Mike I have pics BD alongside Thistle A.
But I have just downloaded Windows 10 trying to find my way around at the moment , but will get to it.

Added by DaveL on 02 August 2015.
morning DaveL, that would be fantastic & thank you - at your convenience & good luck with Win10 - don't envy you but spose it will come to all of us sooner than later.

Added by Mike Dunne on 04 August 2015.
I was on Thistle from 1979 until 1995 as the Fire / Safety Officer, I have enjoyed reading some of the names above and remember them well especially those that served in my Fire Teams.

Added by Mike Sterling on 28 August 2015.
I worked on Thistle from 1979 - 95 as the Fire Officer anybody out there recognise me please drop me a line I have noticed one or two I remember. Mike Sterling

Added by Mike Sterling on 01 September 2015.
I remember Mike Sterling....busy times for the team on that platform.

Added by Andrew Gill on 02 September 2015.
I worked on there in the 80's. Just been in contact with Mike Sterling and George Stow.

Added by Phil Kelley on 22 September 2015.
Nice to see Leslie Jones name on the board she was a great HLO and much better looking than George Stow. By the way when Bill Tily was OIM on board we changed the name from the Black Pig to the Green Pig after we had a massive clean up, Bill even commissioned a very large Green Pig which was placed on the side of the accommodation block so everybody that came off the chopper saw it, I wonder if it is still there?

Added by Mike Sterling on 24 September 2015.
HI, all Ex Thistle Guys, I worked on Thistle on and off from early hook up until 2002 as a Welder, and Davy Knox was the Pipefitter finally working for Wood Group, remember Dougie Meikle, Mike Sterling and Bill Tiley, and Leslie Jones HLO who married Hamish a Wood Group Plater from the Heilands somewhere I have forgot many many more names, I remember waving to Dougie Meikle as he left the rig for the last time, Had some great times on Thistle with some good people

Added by George Stephen on 03 October 2015.
Fingers crossed my 7 photos have uploaded OK , many memories in them

Dave L

Added by DaveL on 15 October 2015.
Leslie Jones, If I remember correctly she wasnt to keen on me calling her Nellie Boswell

Added by on 23 October 2015.
I worked on the Black Pig from Xmas 83-87. It was myself & another roughneck, Boz, that named TA the Black Pig. My first driller on there was Hawkeye, AD Chris Trethowan, D/Man Gordon Harding (RIP), ADM "Hollywood", Roughnecks, Biff, Boz & Joe. Rousties, Me, The Bish, ???. Crane Op Dyson Marshall, Ass Crane Op Scouse Pete ??? (I think he was bent. Lived in Malta). Leccy, Chris "Scatter The Cash" ???. Various TP's. "Compo", Phil De Freitas, Mick Quinn, & some arse from Key Drill. Worked with a bunch ofther good blokes. Ross Wall, Exocet, Fraser Mair "Punch" (TP), Alan Stabler, Kenny McKenzie (Dolly), Farmer, (whose son I met about 3 yrs ago in Korea), Mick Guinn, Paul Reilly, "Porky". Big shout to the NW Hutton blokes I worked with, on RIG ! & 2, Sixpence, John ?? my brothers Crane Op, Rab McKinley….The list goes on, & I apologise for those I have missed. This was the days of a great company, where you learned your trade, & SF took care of you.

Added by Tony R on 11 November 2015.
I think it is fair to say that it was the Drilling Crews who made Thistle Alpha "The Black Pig" after each connection they dumped the Oil Base mud down to the cellar deck, the deck crew was always down there trying to wash it all away using my fire hoses, happy days

Added by Mike Sterling on 12 November 2015.
Hi Tony R. Exocet here. First guy I've seen post anything on this site.

Added by Exocet on 22 November 2015.
I worked on "Thistle Alpha" A.K.A "The Black Pig" from 1979-1991 with BNOC/BRITOIL/BP before moving to BP Miller. In 30 years offshore as a Mechie I only worked on those 2 platforms & what places to work & what brilliant people to work with. Lost count of the characters through the best years of my life. Thistle rogues:- "Big Foot" "Farmer" "Mad Mick McFarlane"....remember when Mick came back from his time in the good old U.S. of A ...came back with the fore & aft aluminium rig helmet. I remember all the animal calls the night before Drillers Crew change....absolute magic. Roy Townhill was Drilling Superintendent for Miller & when the big "c" took Roy (A gentleman.)Roy's ashes were sent offshore to Miller for dispersal into the wind & over the sea. There's a plaque on Miller's cellar deck commemorating Roy's life.
I remember the deck crew...."Big Dennis" A.K.A. P.C. 4 & the day he carried 2 full bottles of Acetylene up flights of stairs when the cranes were down....they don't make them like that anymore, & in the days when you just got on with it. I remember Wade McPherson OIM. Wade was a Chief Engineer with the same shipping company I was with before coming offshore (P&O), really sad to hear about Wade's illness. Scaffs: Peter Flynn leader of Cape Crusaders who used to give you a postage stamp scaffold when you wanted a dance floor.......& there's no such thing as a "hop-up". Steve Whitley is out in Kuala man where he is, along with Alvin Strange & Charlie Keeton ("A toe-rag on the run")all doing well. Great times & memories that will never ever fade. A privilege to have worked with all the crews on "Thistle" & "Miller". Thanks guys & gals.

Added by Ian Fleming. A.K.A. on 02 February 2016.
I worked on thistel A wen the rig was in construction erley 1970's we have semi submergable Accommadation next to the thistel A the befored Dolfin thay were good timer.

Added by John Parker on 06 February 2016.
I knew Waid(Joe) McPherson. I was junior Engineer on Clyde Explorer. He was Chief Engineer. We sailed together again on the Clyde Chivalry. If Sheila his daughter reads this she can contact me.

Added by Andrew Lawrie on 13 March 2016.
....and then the call went out "PRODUCTION OPEN THE VALVE TO COST" - run like f**k up to Mod 10 Mezz and spin open the valve...

Added by Big Bill on 11 April 2016.
I believe 'mad' Mick McFarlane sadly passed away recently. He liked everyone he met to think that he was thick, but he was a very intelligent man. Got on fine with him on the Thistle and later on the Clyde, until I made the mistake of telling him I quite liked Maggie Thatcher, but that's another story!!!!

Added by on 11 May 2016.
Please tell me that Mad Mick is alive and kicking and still preaching the gosple from his little red book. What a character.
We did have some laughs worked hard too.

Added by Farmer on 05 July 2016.
Any guys out there that worked on the bideford dolphin for blandford offshore around 1982 to 1989.

Added by Ray cooke on 11 July 2016.
Hi to all the Thistle guys past & present, great to read all the comments in this blog.
I was part of the team for the float out in 1976 after helping with all the modules in the NDSM shipyard in Amsterdam I have some great memories of Amsterdam, Hughie Lamb, Colin Posner & Charlie Wyper were good mates of mine in the early days we all worked out of Leith in Edinburgh.I was on the first Zodiac from the Gulnare accommodation vessel to the Thistle once it was turned into position on location our job was to check all the grating walkways.
I was involved in the foundation drilling then I worked on both rig 111 & 112 great crews, great people & I have lots of good memories of my time on board meeting so many good people with the odd nutter thrown in as well. Santa Fe were a top team @ that time with the shore base management treating us all very good along with knowing us all by first name, I am proud to say I worked for Santa Fe on the Thistle.
Reading the comments on this blog I am so sad to hear of many of my friends who have passed away, ie Mad Mick from Dundee great guy & wee Ron who was the worlds best @ splicing wire rope. Our Drillers / Toolpusher in the early years were a wild bunch but great guys, Gerry Lassale, TIm Baseflug, Bob Meadows (mad as a hatter) Bob Zearps all great characters I could name more but all really good guys. Directional Driller Big Vincent' & Steve Edgehill both great guys, wow the memories are coming back now.
Anyway to all Thistle crew past & present all my best regards, Dave Tough.

Added by Dave Tough ( Tuffy ) on 09 September 2016.
To all my ex workmates on the Thistle please feel free to drop me a line anytime. The Thistle was a great place to work, as a young man I met a lot of different characters who I really enjoyed to work with. Reading all the comment that are posted I see a lot of familiar names, all the best to you all. The Thistle was a great place to work in the early days when I was there with a great crew spirit on board & at that time Santa Fe were good to work for.

Added by Dave Tough ( Tuffy ) on 11 September 2016.
Hi Farmer

Added by Exocet on 18 September 2016.
I was on the pig for sgb scaffolding on the maintainence with Bernie tut ton when britoil ran it I lived in the annex what a bogging hole but the food was the best the pancakes for breakfast and The Rowies and tab nabs at break time plus the job was ok lol.

Added by Dave halloran on 08 October 2016.
I was on the Santa Fe crew 1977 to 1980, I was rig welder on 11, Willie hunter was the rig welder on 111. Some additional names, Bill Haurlyuk (rig superintendant), Jim Pilcher, Gary Freeman, 'Mad' Jackson, Roy Felger, (tool pushers) Spike Roberts, Neil Robertson, (crane Op's) Tom Gudgeon, (electrician)Jerry Lasalle (driller) alot of names I just can't recall. I finished up working in Brazil for Progress Marine with Bill Haurlyuk when he left Santa Fe. Did I stay in the oil industry, no too many rigs laid up in 1986 I have worked in the Nuclear industry ever since, money is a lot better. Good to hear names mentioned by others, good to read your piece Davey Tough I remember you well.

Added by Geoff Howard on 18 December 2016.
Work on on sh.t hole between1976 1983 worked on the scaffolding had a great time worked with real men from all over county great lads

Added by Dennis rigg on 31 January 2017.
Was on the hook up the stayed there for four more years worked with a great bunch of real men. I worked sgb scaffloding.

Added by on 31 January 2017.
Reading through all the comments it brings tears to my eyes to think the likes of Mick Mcfarlane & others have passed away, whatever happened to Gerry Lassale he was a great guy.
When I worked on the Thistle it was a vibrant humming place with lots & lots of laughs with really great guys.
As I said in my earlier comment on this site I thought Santa Fe were good to work for, we were treated well & with respect by management both on & off the rig.
A name I saw in the blogs was Bunny Bigweather Burmah Company Man he was a great guy, really experienced, he used to come down to the mud pits which were freezing & chat to me ( I was drkmn) for hours I had a lot o respect for him I can tell you.
I am still working in the oilfield for a long time now as O.I.M but I still think back to my "training" days on the Thistle which will always be my number 1 rig actually 2 as I worked on both 111 & 112. not counting rig 10 & 11 foundation rigs.
My first trip offshore I was actually about 15 feet away from the deck crane when the pedestal snapped & the crane went across the deck this was in the Foundation Drilling Stage, with the crane cab eventually coming to a stop on the box end of a a joint of 42" casing, this was my first trip offshore & I will never forget it.
Myself & a Canadian guy call called Hughie Westie managed to get George the crane op out the crane cab but unfortunetly it was to late for him as he sadly passed away.
A collection was taken for Georges widow with everyone putting in a bit, almost 3 Thousand pounds was collected which was a fair bit £ in these days I can tell you if you consider you could buy a good 1 bedroom flat in Edinburgh for that , the Rig Supt gave the £ which was to help Georges family until the insurance came through to a "friend" of George who lived in the same area......this friend never came back to work he absconded with the £ I was to young so I dont know his name otherwise I would name & shame him....what a dastardly thing to do.
Many memories as I say, does anyone remember the egg eating competion were Craig Rosier (action man) ate a litre of eggs & he won it hands down.
The incident with the catwalk on rig 111, I was really lucky that day as normally as Derrickman I was first out & we used to sing hi ho hi ho its of to work we go as we walked over to 111, on that day I picked a paper that had been left in the accomadation so instead of being first I was last thus I was on the main catwalk when the extension tipped over...luck was with me that day, amongst the others the worst hurt was Paul Jenning who was one of the first to fall & everyone landed on him, good guy Paul his folks at that time had the Stonehaven hotel.
So many memories of great people it would take me hours to write them all down, all I can say is to people I worked with all the best, to the crews working now I can tell you it was never called the black pig in our day as we washed, washed & washed some more & there was a standing joke that you had to keep moving otherwise you got painted Orange (Santa Fe Colors) all the best to you all crews past & present.
Dave Tough ( Tuffy )

Added by David Tough on 01 February 2017.
Hi fellow riggers on the thistle Alpha does anyone remember me George Murison Deck Foreman 1977 - 1984. I was back to back with Charley Clark Tim Warren Dave Shepard be good to hear from you guys.

Added by George Murison on 05 March 2017.
I worked on the black pig hated it ..does the accommodation still smell of stale farts?

Added by Tony on 17 March 2017.
Inside the accommodation it had a rotten egg smell. I always thought there was an h2s smell really disgusting black pig right enough horrible place.

Added by Tony on 17 March 2017.
The communal showers were not that pleasant either

Added by Jim on 18 March 2017.
Was a prod tech on thistle for 5 years 98-03 and after moving on to other rigs north Sea and worldwide retain fond memories of the rig that wasthe best kept secret in the north Sea. ..the best Craic , the great crew who were the biggest hearted bunch you could meet.excellent food and a great place to work...retired now but of all the rigs I've worked on since...thistle for so many reasons remains the stand out special one.

Added by on 11 May 2017.
Was on the Thistle back in eighty three to eighty six before heading to Australia, remember Ian Fleming well and John McKenna , plus many more good blokes.Me? I worked for Alcoa Aluminium and Coka Cola before retiring. I holiday every year back home so if any body wants to get in touch your welcome

Added by Davie Roy on 26 July 2017.
Ah the black pig!! Was a Prod Tech on A Shift with Alex Bogdanovic, George Eadie, Sam Tooey, Calum Munro to name but a few. Left to go to Beatrice but came back to the "pig" as Shift Supv just before BP took over. Great place to learn what it means to be a Proddie unlike today where its all done from the CCR.
Retired now but Thistle will always be part of me.

Added by Bill Goodfellow on 16 August 2017.
I worked on 111 from 1977-1989 then again in 86. I remember some of you guys and there was some great times and people back then. Where are you now. John Wren, Roses Wall, Rob Pixeley, Dougie Knowles to name but a few. I would like to hear from any one from the good old days 111 or 112.

Added by Charlie Windsor on 08 March 2018.
Brian Murray...are you still a cartoonist? You had a real talent there, Bro.(g) Nowadays I'm still traveling all over, but now retired. Sorry it took so long for me to get back to the board here to see your comment. It's really great to hear from you. Drop me a line sometime. I get to the UK every year or two. Or we could meet up in Coonass country if you prefer. Lol! ;)

Added by Tom McGuinness on 22 March 2018.
I was a young trainee for Dowell Schlumberger in 1976- '77 out of Aberdeen. We did the Grouting Project off of McDermott's DB22 Derrick Barge. Deaths occurred during the project, one worker was walking on the Jacket at night while we were alongside but not working due to bad weather. He wasn't supposed to be on it, one of the piles had been driven but the cover had been left off. He stepped off into it and fell inside, A Spanish welder was also lost as a pile was being stabbed into the guide. The huge Shackle pins were faulty and the sling came loose and swung and knocked him off into the sea. He lost an arm, Divers never located the body. Worked with some great guys during that project, I wooed in the onboard lab testing compressive strengths of the Cement returns for months. We worked 21/7 until I left to attend the Dowell Schlumberger School in Pau, France, August 1977. What an experience. I continued to work for them until retired in 2002.

Added by Mike Ford on 14 August 2018.
Motor man on the thistle a spent my 21st birthday 41 year's ago now how time flies loved every minute best time of my life great set of lads also looking for photos of the rig if anyone out there can help

Added by Jim clarke on 26 August 2018.
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